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mandments, as I have kept my Father's commandments.
It would take up the time of a whole Sermon, to advance all the proofs in our blessed Lord's own words, “ for KEEPING GOD'S WILL AND “ COMMANDMENTS;" I shall therefore conclude this most weighty authority with this convincing declaration, in the 8th verse of the same chapter: Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. And hence we must infer, that those who bear not fruit, or who depreciate the value of good works, as not being positively essential to sound faith, they are not Christ's disciples.
How far the Apostles followed their Master's rule, as to the necessity of keeping the commandinents, you may readily determine, by what I shall now further submit to your judgment upon the case.
the case. It is a truth, in which all agree, that pure religion is love; and it is an axiom founded on this truth, that, unless we love Christ, we are none of his. Hear now what his favourite disciple says of this divine quality, and of this very term, by which God himself delights to be named: This is love (says St. John), that we walk after his commandments. (1 Ep. ii. 6.) And, in the third chapter, 24th verse, he saith, He that keepeth his commandments, dwelleth in Him, and He in him; and it is by this mark only we know that He abideth in us by
the Spirit, which He hash given us. Hereby (says the Apostle) we are ASSURED that we know Him, if we keep his commandments. (1 Ep. ii. 3.) And we may close this disciple's testimony by the following bold assertion--that he who saith he knoweth Christ, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 Ep. ii. 4.) And if there needs any thing further to confirm it, what can be more to the purpose, than that plain and powerful assurance that he makes in the spirit of divine inspiration, in which there can be no error, and which is introduced with this awful authority of-I am AlPHA and OMEGA, the BEGINNING and the END, the FIRST and LAST. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a RIGHT to the tree of life.
Let us now examine a few texts from the writings of St. Paul, and other Apostles, which are equally binding on all Christians to keep the moral law. Some of the difficulties which are to be found in this Apostle's writings, which St. Peter terms hard to be understood, and which have occasioned such furious and unprofitable disputes, might be easily removed by a clear distinction of the moral, from the ceremonial law. In general, when St. Paul seems to inveigh against the law of works, he means not only the ceremonial law of Moses, but the many traditions and superstitious ceremonies of the Jews, in the strict keeping of which they placed great dependence for justification ; therefore the Apostle speaks most truly (Acts, xiii. 39), where he says, And by Him all that believe are justified from all things (not from doing good, but from those niceties and rites), from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. That this was his meaning, what follows in the chapter most clearly shows-where we read how grievously offended the Jews were, that he should lower the virtue of their law. But surely St. Paul did not intend to set aside the moral law_ the law of righteousness; and, though he says (Gal. ii. 16), that no man is justified by the works of the law, he doth not advance this, to make void an obligation to keep the ten commandments, but to point out the excellence of grace, or favour, through Christ's merits, which alone can enable us to keep the law, and which is indispensable to justify or save the very closest observer of it, whose best works must partake of imperfection; and this is plainly asserted in Rom. ii. 13, where he affirms, that the DOERS of the law shall be justified: and his blessed Master avows the same: Not the hearers, but the poeRS of the word, shall be saved. So that our being justified freely by grace, as he expresses himself to Titus (iii. 7), does not free us from doing good works, but only exalts the great mercy of God, in having procured us a new power for
Christ's sake, to work out our salvation. And hence it is most true, that no flesh would be justified in God's sight, but through the atonement and mediation of the Redeemer; because he is the mover of all the good that is in us because man had broken the law, was under the curse of it, and had no power, no means in himself to renew his nature, and make due satisfaction to infinite justice. But this indisputable truth doth by no means infer that, when man's nature was regenerated by the general promise that Christ should die for all, and be a light to lighten every one that cometh into the world (procuring a possibility that all might come to the knowledge of his grace or truth), that then he was to become indifferent to the works of the moral law. Upon the whole, I will be bold to say, wherever St. Paul seems to lower the works of the law, it is never to affirm that they are needless, or may be dispensed with, but only to guard against ascribing too much to their distinct virtue and power, or the building on their merits to justify, independent of the sole merits and satisfaction of Christ. To settle this point, I would only beg leave to ask, in what did the transgression of our first parents consist, when they fell from their original innocence, and became depraved, but in disobedience to the commandiment, in not keeping God's law? If so, is it not, to the full, as incumbent on their poste
rity not to repeat the transgression? For, to what purpose was the law added, but to prove our faith, and, by it, afford us another trial? But St. Paul says (Rom. v. 1), A man is justified by FAITH ; and St. James says (ii. 24), Ye see how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Which of these assertions are we to credit? Why, both. If Abraham (says the first) were justified by works, he hath wherewith to boast, (Rom, iv, 2.) Was not Abraham, our father, justified by works? saith the other. (James, ii, 21.) Let us try to reconcile these seeming differences. If Abraham had not had faith, i. e. had not believed that God had power to give him another son, he had never obeyed the commandment to sacrifice the son of the promise. Here was faith producing works; but, if his faith had proceeded no further than a mere inward conviction of God's power; if it had not been recorded that he actually bound his son, and stretched forth the knife to slay him, according to the positive command of God, we could never have had any assurance that his faith was sound. By this very work was his faith made perfect; and so necessary doth St. James's proof appear, of—show me thy faith by thy works, and which establishes the main drift or design of all this Discourse—that, if we love, and fear, and believe God, we must keep his commandments. To be justified, signifies to be